The CACE Effect: Lessons from The City School

Jesus has come, conquered death and is coming again, and here we are in the middle of the “already, but not yet”-ness of it all. We are called to be bold and to take risks, to live vulnerably, even as we have a father who knows how to give us good gifts. He makes us lie down in green pastures and he walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death. We can’t live in this middle alone, especially as a school community, and that is our CACE effect. Through CACE we have entered into a partnering community of schools and experienced school leaders who walk in the middle with us, encouraging us in faith.

The City School serves over 340 students in grades PK-12, across four campuses in the city of Philadelphia, with growing capacity to serve over 450 in the next three years. We are in the midst of plans to eventually serve over 1,000 students to build partnership communities of shalom in the city. The City School has a vision to pursue the shalom of the city through excellent and accessible education in Jesus’ name. We have formed through the merger of three independent schools, across denominational lines to establish a growing school community serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse student body. Leading Mennonite, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches coming together to partner and pursue shalom in the city together. Students coming from over 75 churches in 15 different denominations.

Half of our students come from families at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. These are families who desire the best for their children, but would likely otherwise have to send them to low achieving public schools in de facto segregated and isolated communities. Yet we are also a school drawing middle and upper middle class families who also desire the best for their children. College success and a biblically-informed, insightful cultural hermeneutic are normative expectations for graduates at The City School. This year we are seeking to be the very first city-focused school in the country (less than 20 overall) to receive ACSI exemplary accreditation. We are considering bold plans for further expansion to develop what multiple national Christian school leaders are calling, “the new model for urban Christian education.”

As we’ve grown and challenged some basic norms about how diverse Christians can work together, CACE has been there to consider the best ideas and strategies to accomplish this bold calling. It means so much when people who have been there and done that in their own context, tap you on the shoulder and say, “I believe in you. How can I help?”  It has been such an encouragement to partner with the CACE community to talk vulnerably and passionately about how to honor Jesus in schooling. We talk about how to grow enrollment, how to encourage positive school culture, how to think sustainably and strategically across a really diverse group of schools at CACE, each of whom are committed to the name above all names.

As the Proverb says, the righteous are bold as lions. CACE helps align the wisdom in our boldness. How can we be bold with you, and you with us?

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